Students Stage Walkout During Jerry Seinfeld's Duke Commencement Address

Jerry Seinfeld stirs debate with recent public statements.

by Nouman Rasool
Students Stage Walkout During Jerry Seinfeld's Duke Commencement Address
© Manny Carabel/Getty Images

During Duke University's commencement ceremony last Sunday, a notable number of students made a statement by walking out just as comedian Jerry Seinfeld was introduced to speak. The walkout, a protest against Israel's military actions in Gaza, occurred while Duke President Vincent Price was presenting Seinfeld, who was there to receive an honorary doctorate.

Video cameras circled, capturing the moment of the walkout, as it went viral on social media, and after the mixed reaction of the audience, with loud cheers and jeers—the same that could not at all be mentioned in the university's official livestream of the event.

Jerry Seinfeld, comedian and mind behind the hit sitcom "Seinfeld," has been much in the limelight of late due to his controversial opinions. However, at Duke, Seinfeld talked much more about his humorous interactions with students and his new honorary degree than he did on the controversial topics that had preceded his arrival.

He humorously acknowledged his New York Jewish background as a "privilege" in the realm of comedy, sparking applause and laughter from the crowd.

Seinfeld's Polarizing Comments

This address comes on the heels of Seinfeld's controversial remarks in a recent Netflix release, "Unfrosted," and subsequent interviews where he criticized the "extreme left and P.C.

crap" for stifling television comedy, citing a lack of genuinely humorous content since shows like "All in the Family." These comments have drawn both praise and criticism, with figures like Elon Musk and Sean Hannity expressing support, while many in the comedy and television criticism circles found them outdated.

Moreover, Seinfeld has openly supported Israel following the attacks on October 7, which marked a shift for the typically apolitical comedian. His public support included a visit to a kibbutz in December, where he met with families of hostages and experienced a missile attack, further cementing his outspoken stance on the conflict.

The event at Duke reflects a broader societal dialogue on celebrity involvement in political debates and the impact of their platforms on public discourse. As the academic world intersects with celebrity influence, the reactions—from student walkouts to social media buzz—underscore the complexities of engaging with such divisive topics in public forums.